Peeters’ Pachyderme

17 11 2009

From my recent review of Frédérik Peeters’ Pachyderme:

Let’s see… in the breathless opening to this 90 page graphic novel we get a traffic jam due to a wounded elephant; a blind pigkeeper; a gray hydrocephalic baby—vaguely alien-looking—in the woods; a cavalier and alcoholic skirt-chasing surgeon; and a beanpole of a Swiss secret policeman, complete with trenchcoat, stovepipe hat, and prosthetic proboscis, who like Get Smart’s Agent 13 turns up in the unlikeliest of places. A woman—our heroine Carice—walks though it all—from her car through the woods, as if in a trance, to a hospital to visit her diplomat husband, indisposed from an auto accident. Her goodbye note, which she intends to deliver in person, is in her purse. The hospital is vast, remote, and forbidding, filled with suitable loonies. Among those Carice meets in the lobby are a paraplegic who offers to help hide her if she’s a Jew, and an orderly who insists she’s come for the annual show patients put on. The secret policeman insists she see the Don Juan of a doctor before her husband, because the former has a file that should be in the latter’s hands: a file valuable to the Soviets, detailing activities of the Red Cross. The book’s first third ends with Carice waking an apparently dead body in the morgue with her whistling. Chopin? the body asks. Carice nods. We learn of her too-early marriage, her dashed dreams as a concert pianist, and in the course of conversation realize that the aged cadaver she’s talking to is her future self.

Read the rest at Absinthe Minded!


Epiphany, Fall 2009 Issue Now Available

15 11 2009

for purchase online and at purveyors of discerning periodicals near you. Die not for lack of what is found in poems, difficult as it may be to get the news from them.

Epiphany Fall 2009

Featuring H.V. Chao’s short story “Jewel of the North” and Edward Gauvin’s translation of Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Talking Ape Clobbered by Clowns” amidst a host of superlative contributors!

ALTA 2009… ’nuff said.

15 11 2009
Pasadena Hilton, ALTA 2009

Vagrants in the Hilton Lobby, courtesy Matt Rowe

Home is the sailor, home from sea
And the hunter home from the hill.

Some Good News and I’m Off to ALTA

12 11 2009

Subtropics 9, the translation issue, will be published in January 2010, featuring fiction by J. M. G. Le Clezio, Marco Denevi, Fumiko Enchi, Gyula Krudy, Ervin Lazar, and Bernard Quiriny; a memoir by Mark Girshin; and poems from the French, Catalan, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Tagalog, Russian, Dutch, Spanish, Latin, Romanian, Ukrainian, and Japanese. Translators include Alison Anderson, John Batki, Martha Collins, Fred Ellison, Michael Emmerich, Edward Gauvin, Jim Kates, Alexis Levitin, Christian Nagle, Andrea Nemeth Newhauser, Idra Novey, Jose Reyes, Marian Schwartz, and Lawrence Venuti.

Matching up names: my translation is of “A Guide to Famous Stabbings” by Bernard Quiriny, a bright star in the current Belgian Francophone firmament. Quiriny’s first book, L’Angoisse de la première phrase [Fear of the First Line], from which this story is taken, was published in 2005 by Phébus, and received the Prix Littéraire de la Vocation, a prize previously won by such notables as Christophe Bataille, Amélie Nothomb, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Didier Van Cauwelaert, and Shan Sa. His second book of short stories, Contes Carnivores (Le Seuil, 2008), won Belgium’s top literary prize, the Prix Rossel. It was prefaced by Enrique Vila-Matas, whose work is referenced in “Stabbings.” Born in 1978, Quiriny lives in Bourgogne, where he studied with political philosopher Cornélius Castoriadis, who sometimes shows up in his stories. He is a frequent contributor to Chronic’Art, Epok, and Le Magazine Littéraire.

That Crazy Interfictions 2 Evening

11 11 2009

Last Friday night, readings by Jeffrey Ford, K. Tempest Bradford, Carlos Hernandez, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Veronica Schanoes, and Genevieve Valentine, backed up by local musicians Brian Wecht, Jeremy Goddard, John Pinamonti, Nate Landau, and Charlie Shaw, conducted by Brian Francis Slattery. And boy do I mean conducted! The Nerd Rock-to-Cuban soundtrack to Carlos Hernandez’ story was amazing.

Links are to my Youtube uploads; more can be found here and here. Wish I’d had more time on my camera.
The next “Slattery Event” will be in Boston this coming Friday: Read the rest of this entry »

Epiphany Fall 2009 Issue Launch Party This Wednesday

9 11 2009
Editor Jeffrey Gustavson Introduces

Epiphany Reading, 11/7/09

So Saturday I read H.V. Chao’s story “Jewel of the North” in its entirety for Epiphany magazine’s fall issue event, the first of two. The second is this Wednesday, November 11, so please come celebrate with a launch party for Fall 2009’s WHO’S STILL ALIVE . . . / (l)ove = (o)cean from 7-9 at Pianos (158 Ludlow St.). I will be reading from my translation of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s “Talking Ape Clobbered by Clowns.”

This concludeth the flogging.

Final Thoughts, More Personal, on WFC

9 11 2009

In the hope a few poorly chosen words, slightly late, are still better than none ever: Among the highlights of WFC weekend were having my Clarion mates all crammed into my mom’s house, on floor and sofa, in room and hall. Waking every morning to jaw around the breakfast table on three hours’ sleep. We also did some serious hanging out with the awesome Clarion ’08, as well as assorted Westies and past grads, largely thanks to an afternoon Clarion alum party that Leslie Howle threw Friday afternoon. While we went around the crowded room with AA-style introductions, I was mesmerized by the view of dry and distant hills from the 14th floor: a reminder that there was a world outside, beyond the heavy curtains, carpeted corridors, deadly dull brocaded walls of conference suites. A world beyond a swarm of faces—and for a moment the prospect of another handshake felt crippling. Sunshine! Fresh air! Through the tinted window it seemed almost a back projection, or a collective hallucination, as loud an announcement as a long shot of landscape in a sweeping old epic, the green world (though it was mostly brown) they run to at the end of some cut of Blade Runner. Read the rest of this entry »